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A History of Violins

When the Charleston Symphony Orchestra hired Cleveland native Diana Cohen in September 2003, the 24-year-old violinist was taking on a big responsibility: as principal violin, she was replacing Isabella Lippi as concertmaster for the CSO, a job which CSO music director David Stahl describes as the orchestra's "on-field captain." Cohen, the symphony's youngest-ever concertmaster (known also for being quite easy on the eyes, particularly in a black satin dress that looked like leather) parted ways with the CSO this summer after two seasons in the role. In Cohen's absence, second violin and associate concertmaster Karyn Blake (also no slouch in the looks department) filled in as big enchilada while the symphony auditioned for a replacement.

Evidently, they've found one. Yuriy Bekker played an Oct. 28 Masterworks Concert with his new family, before officials had even had a chance to draft an official announcement. In any event, Bekker, who hails originally from Minsk, Belarus, comes to Charleston from the Houston Symphony. As concertmaster, he'll now be the one playing the violin solos in orchestral works, leading the musicians in tuning before concerts, and handling a variety of other technical aspects of orchestra management. Your guess is as good as ours as to how he looks in black satin. –Patrick Sharbaugh

Taking on Two Grinches

New Yawk composer, critic, and conductor Josh Rosenblum – best known to locals as The Post and Courier's Spoleto overview critic last spring – returned to Chucktown on Oct. 3 to present a one-off performance of his hit musical satire Bush Is Bad: Impeachment Edition. The show had liberals, progressives, and left-wingers of every stripe almost weeping with laughter. (As Alex Sanders noted in his intro: "We laugh to keep from crying.") But Rosenblum's creds as a Broadway conductor are at least equal to his chops as a razor-witted lyricist. At the moment he's wielding the baton at Broadway's Hilton Theatre for the musical Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which opens tonight after running in previews since Oct. 24. In the meantime, his Bush is Bad is still running three days a week up the street at the Upper West Side's Triad Theater.

"It's exhausting, but it's been great," Rosenblum says. "Grinch is a huge show technically, and the marketing is enormous. It's only 70 minutes long, but we're doing 12 shows a week while we're in previews, since we're rehearsing and performing at the same time. So you're pretty tired at the end of the day. Doing that and keeping Bush Is Bad going has been pretty tough." We bet. Doing justice to one Grinch alone would be a challenge. –PS

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